Why CEOs Need to Be Social: An Interview With Peter Aceto From ING DIRECT Canada

Photo of Peter AcetoIt is still rare to see CEOs actively participating in the social web today. However, Peter Aceto, President and Chief Executive Officer of ING DIRECT Canada believes that it’s extremely important. He will be speaking about his experience with social media at the DX3 Conference in Toronto on January 25th.

In advance of the conference, we caught up with Mr. Aceto to find out why he makes time for social media and how his participation, on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, has impacted the ING DIRECT brand. 

Why do you, the CEO of ING DIRECT Canada, make time to participate in social media?

The main reason is because we, as a company, and me personally, want to stay connected with our clients. Social media usage has exploded over the last few years and it has become such an integrated part of ING DIRECT – largely because it aligns well with our direct business model and the way in which our clients like to reach and interact with us. There is a growing need for Canadians to better understand money and money matters.

With Canadians saving less, paying more in bank fees, spending more in general and increasing their debt levels, social media allows me and my team to be “at the dinner table” with our clients to have an open dialogue about money. I want to be there and weigh in on the discussions and questions they have about personal finance.

How do you manage your time to participate in social media?

Yes, it is definitely another thing on my to-do list, but I actually enjoy being social and I understand the importance it will have for our business. Leaders find time to do strategic things, important things and this is something I have decided is strategic and important. I jot down Tweets as they come to me throughout the day and I use an application that allows me to save them and the time when they are delivered. Facebook is also becoming more important for me personally but has always been a vital platform for ING DIRECT.

How do you think your contribution improves your brand’s social media presence?

At ING DIRECT we are trying to create the organizational model that will win in the next several decades.  Brands and their leaders will need to be open, transparent, honest and collaborative both inside and outside their buildings. Demonstrating this every day through my own availability inside our organization and outside through social media and other means is critical for us and has been very rewarding. I believe in leading by example and if my team sees I’m committed to openness and transparency in banking, it gets more engrained in our corporate culture and that’s critical to our future success. Social media is another way I can be part of the front lines and participate in the conversation.

What can brands do to eliminate any fears that they have about having their senior-level staff participate in social media?

Start on the inside first. This has been an interesting discovery for us. Having a social enterprise is a critical piece to being more social on the outside in the long run. Many of your employees are already social in their personal lives. So, if organizations focus internally to improve their communication flow across the organization leveraging social tools, this will be very helpful for senior staff to get comfortable with the tools and the nature of the dialogue in a safer environment. Also, understand that you’ll never be perfect and you’ll make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. 

Mr. Aceto is looking forward to sharing his experiences using social media – the good and the bad at DX3 Canada. He’ll explain what he’s learned and what ING DIRECT has learned as a business in the few short years that they’ve been involved in social media.